The bus ride to Kilkee was about ninety minutes through the Western Highlands. An amazing thing about Ireland (or at least this part) is the amount of neglected ruins standing in the middle of fields. We might pass by a sacked abbey, a crumbling castle, or merely a watchtower standing in the midst of a pasture with cows grazing about it. The weather was gray and overcast with a smattering of rain. The rain there was never a heavy downpour, but rather more of a dense misting.
The whole reason to visit Kilkee was a concert at the main church, which I was informed later used to hold Polish Mass every Sunday (the Polish population dwindled apparently. But, there was a Polish store on the way into the town.)
The town itself is rather small and situated on a sand beach on the harbor. Cliffs rise up on either side of the beach and grassy hills undulate towards the inland. The lack of sun didn't take away from the majesty of it all, and the gray sky melded with the wavy steel sea. A breeze pushed breakers in, causing a dramatic spray and boom as broke against the black rock shore. A golf course was nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding countryside; all that let wary hikers know there was a course there was a few signs warning of flying balls, a small wire fence, and a random sand trap. There wasn't a tree in sight.
Some people playing a round on the links.
Across the bay.
A shot of Kilkee.
The grass was so soft. It was like walking on whipped cream or down feathers. Rolling down the hill (yes, I did do that) was extremely satisfying and was even better than doing it in the snow. Unfortunately, there were tons of trash lying about. Trash barrels stood virtually unused as garbage was strewn around the landscape. It wasn't just in Kilkee, but in Limerick and Kilrush as well.
One of the many ignored signs.
A small bit of evidence.
Apparently they have no idea what this is for.
Kilkee seemed to be suffering/benefitting from a housing boom, as brand new beach homes lined the roads facing out to sea. They were obviously rented by the week or weekend, and one could see straight into each home due to the large glass frontal windows that afforded them a view of the bay. The main street of Kilkee was lined with tourist shops and fish-'n-chips take outs. It was rather quaint indeed. By the beach there were a few stands selling periwinkles (things I used to smash as a kid for fun, but never ate.)
Beach houses facing the ocean.
Kilrush was a larger town, more set back from the shore. It had numerous bars, all of them displaying some soccer game and all boasting of live traditional music. Kilrush also had some infatuation with butcher shops as well, as there seemed to be too many to really be supported by the local populace. There were almost as many butcher shops as there were bars (these people apparently like their meat. When I was in a grocery store in Limerick, the meat section took up a good eight aisles-worth.)
A shot of downtown Kilrush.
Limerick was a bustling city that closed down after five o'clock. Everything closed except a few bars and maybe a store or two. In some parts litter blanketed the ground like leaves do in the fall. Aside from that, it was rather charming.
On a bus in Limerick. Apparently gum litter is a big crime.
I must stress that everyone there was extremely nice and charming. I've never met such lovely fellows. Everyone was so warm and inviting (aside from a few, such as the man at the bus stop yelling racial epithets.)
Near the University of Limerick there is a ruin of a castle, one that has stood for hundreds of years. Most people there don't know about it, or seem to care. Now it's overgrown and serves as a place for college students to party and fuck.
Trash at the castle.
Apparently a pasture is the proper place to dispose waste.
It makes the meat tastier.